Saturday, October 19, 2019

Eight things you need to know about poltergeists – just in time for Halloween

  Halloween is the time of year when interest in the paranormal peaks and people celebrate all things supernatural. Of particular fascination are stories and tales of ghosts and ghouls and poltergeists.

  The term poltergeist comes from the combining of two German words: poltern (crash) and geist (spirit or ghost). So in other words, a noisy or unruly ghost or spirit. Although less common than traditional hauntings, reports of poltergeist activity date back to the first century. In modern times the phenomenon has generated several major films and television programs.

  So with this in mind, here are the eight most important things you should know about poltergeists.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Hank Sanders: Sketches #1687 - Forgiveness is powerful, but there is a strange sense of forgiveness in these United States of America

  Forgive. Forgiving. Forgiveness. Sometimes forgiveness is strange. In whatever form, forgiveness is powerful. I believe strongly in forgiveness. I have spoken about forgiveness on many occasions. I have written about forgiveness on various occasions. I have shared my thoughts on forgiveness right here in Sketches. But there is a strange form of forgiveness in these United States of America.

  First, allow me to say several things about forgiveness. Forgiveness is really about the person doing the forgiving. It is not about the person who did wrong. The old African proverb frames the issue superbly: Not forgiving is like drinking poison and waiting on the person we refuse to forgive to die. Yes, yes, yes!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Craig Ford: Charter schools in Alabama continue national trend of waste, fraud and corruption

  One of the biggest arguments against charter schools is that they have been hotbeds of waste, fraud, and corruption. Nationally, charter schools have cost the taxpayers over $100 million in fraud and corruption.

  Now, Alabama has become the new victim of corruption and waste at the hands of charter schools.

  Nicole Ivey was the principal of LEAD Academy, the first charter school in Montgomery, until a few weeks ago. Ivey was fired after she raised questions about whether the school was following state laws that govern charter schools.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Congressman Jack Edwards, an Alabama legend, passes away

  One of the most outstanding congressmen and leaders in Alabama history is Congressman Jack Edwards. He passed away three weeks ago at age 91.

  He was born with the full name of William Jackson Edwards, III. However, he was always known as Jack. Although he was renowned as a Mobile/Baldwin County congressman, he was born and raised in Jefferson County. He received his early education in public schools and graduated high school in Homewood.

  He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1946. He continued his military service from 1946 through 1951 and served during the Korean War.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

What’s so wrong about lying in a job interview?

  Getting a new job is tough.

  I know this not just because of my own research as a professor studying the intersection of business and ethics but also because of the countless candidates I interviewed for major firms in my previous career. It’s this experience I bring to mind as I consider a question I’ve seen and heard asked recently: When is it ethical to lie in a job interview?

  Philosophers and ethicists have identified many schools of thought around what makes a certain action ethically “good” instead of “evil.”

Monday, October 14, 2019

How Columbus, of all people, became a national symbol

  Christopher Columbus was a narcissist.

  He believed he was personally chosen by God for a mission that no one else could achieve. After 1493, he signed his name “xpo ferens” – “the Christbearer.” His stated goal was to accumulate enough wealth to recapture Jerusalem. His arrogance led to his downfall, that of millions of Native Americans – and eventually fostered his resurrection as the most enduring icon of the Americas.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Electoral College will never make everyone happy

  With the presidential election looming, worried observers of politics have already asked whether the Electoral College will again deliver a victory to the candidate with less than a majority of the popular vote.

  This has happened in two of the last five presidential elections.

  Critics like Vox’s Ezra Klein contend that this phenomenon is not only undemocratic but also politically biased because Republicans were the beneficiaries of both of these Electoral College hiccups. “American politics is edging into an era of crisis,” Klein writes.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Who are the real friends of the troops?

  Ever since the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, it has been an article of faith that Americans should thank the troops for their service in those two countries.

  Yet, with the exception of libertarians and a few leftists, the fact is that during the two decades of death, injury, suffering, destruction, and out of control federal spending and debt that threatens to send the government into bankruptcy, the overwhelming majority of Americans never openly demanded that the U.S. government bring the troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Friday, October 11, 2019

A brief history of television interviews – and why live TV helps those who lie and want to hide

  First, it happened on Fox News. Chris Wallace asked White House adviser Stephen Miller about the president’s decision to use private lawyers “to get information from the Ukrainian government rather than go through … agencies of his government.”

  Miller’s response began, “two different points –” when Wallace cut him off.

  “How about answering my question?” Wallace asked. Miller, changing the subject, ignored Wallace.

  Wallace’s question was never answered.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

A Confederate statue graveyard could help bury the Old South

  An estimated 114 Confederate symbols have been removed from public view since 2015. In many cases, these cast-iron Robert E. Lees and Jefferson Davises were sent to storage.

  If the aim of statue removal is to build a more racially just South, then, as many analysts have pointed out, putting these monuments in storage is a lost opportunity. Simply unseating Confederate statues from highly visible public spaces is just the first step in a much longer process of understanding, grieving, and mending the wounds of America’s violent past. Merely hiding away the monuments does not necessarily change the structural racism that birthed them.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Prison issue to be addressed in Special Session

  The second year of the reign of Gov. Kay Ivey may give her a second major accomplishment of her tenure. 

  In her first year, she spearheaded the measure to increase the state’s gasoline tax in order to allow Alabama to proceed with a much-needed massive infrastructure program labeled Rebuild Alabama.

  It is my belief that she and the Alabama Legislature will resolve the state’s looming prison problems. It was first thought and actually assumed that a Special Session would be called in late October. However, it now appears that the scenario used by the governor and her chief of staff, Jo Bonner, last year was so successful that they will replicate the road program plan. They will call a Special Session within next year’s Regular Session.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Trump’s bad Nixon imitation may cost him the presidency

  Whatever Donald Trump does, Richard Nixon usually did it first and better.

  Nixon got a foreign government’s help to win a presidential election over 50 years ago. Trump’s imitation of the master has proven far from perfect, and that may cost him the presidency.

  Trump’s first mistake was soliciting foreign interference personally. As a result, he cannot deny that he urged Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden. The proof is in his own White House’s record of their telephone call.

Monday, October 7, 2019

When justice depends on the size of your pocketbook

  Tella Barnett fears she’ll end up behind bars again if she gets behind on her payments.

  She’s one of the thousands of people in Alabama who pay to stay out of prison. One day last March, she paid a $30 monitoring fee as well as a $40 supervision fee. She paid $40 in drug testing fees and $30 in “rescheduling fees.”

  “Oh, my goodness, I can barely afford to eat,” said Barnett, 30. “I have three small children and I’m trying to pay for my home. I have $375 a month in rent, plus the power, plus the water, plus gas to get to work. It’s hard to pay that, it really is.”

Sunday, October 6, 2019

The impact of partisan gerrymandering

  Once a decade, every state redraws its electoral districts, determining which people will be represented by each politician. In many states, this means that politicians gather behind computer screens to figure out how they can manipulate the lines to box out their competition and maximize the power of their political party. While an increasing number of states employ independent commissions to draw district lines, the large majority still lack safeguards to prevent partisan favoritism in the redistricting process—also known as partisan gerrymandering.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Worse than Watergate

  Watergate has long been the standard by which other political scandals are judged. Commentators use the suffix “-gate” and talk about how contemporary events mirror those that occurred during the Watergate investigation.

  But the country is now confronted with a presidential scandal that presents an unprecedented danger to American democracy and national security. Evidence that has been released—by the White House no less—shows that President Donald Trump abused his authority to attempt to extort a foreign country to intervene in the 2020 election. And recent reporting shows that he withheld vital military aid to Ukraine as part of his unlawful pressure campaign.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Trump’s corporate tax cut is not trickling down

  Two years ago, President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent via the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA). At the time, the Trump administration claimed that its corporate tax cuts would increase the average household income in the United States by $4,000. But two years later, there is little indication that the tax cut is even beginning to trickle down in the ways its proponents claimed.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

‘Always sticking to your convictions’ sounds like a good thing – but it isn’t

  There is nothing wrong with strong opinions. They are healthy in a democracy – an apathetic electorate is an ineffective electorate.

  But a curious fact about American society’s supercharged political culture is that even the most humble debates (think: Which fried chicken sandwiches are best?) turn a tweet into matters of conviction.

  The result is that many of us come to see criticism as intolerable and disagreement with our opinions as a mark of moral inferiority.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - 2020 U.S. Senate race right around the corner

  Even though qualifying does not begin until October 8, 2019, the field is probably set for the GOP Primary in March to unseat Democrat Doug Jones, who is sitting in Alabama’s Republican U.S. Senate seat.

  First District Congressman Bradley Bryne and Secretary of State John Merrill may be the favorites to lead the field and square off in a runoff. Either of the two will probably win by a 60-40 margin over Jones in November.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Why we’ll always be obsessed with – and afraid of – monsters

  Fear continues to saturate our lives: fear of nuclear destruction, fear of climate change, fear of the subversive, and fear of foreigners.

  But a Rolling Stone article about our “age of fear” notes that most Americans are living “in the safest place at the safest time in human history.”